PETALING JAYA: It has been six years since Gavin Kyle Green became the last local winner of the Malaysian Amateur Open (MAO).
And the streak looks unlikely to end with no Malaysian looking capable to challenge for honours in the 116th edition, which gets under way at the Sultan Abdul Aziz Shah Golf Club in Shah Alam today.
In last week's Saujana Amateur Championship, Shakiran Johari and Muhd Afif Razif were the best local performers in joint eighth place but they finished a whopping 13 shots behind winner Joshua Ho of Singapore.
Shakiran is part of the 130-man field this week alongside national team quartet Muhd Afif Fathi, Adam Arif Madzri, K. Rhaasrikanesh and Danial Durisic.
The lads will be on a mission to redeem some pride for the host following a disastrous outing last year.
Galven Kendall Green, younger brother of Gavin, was the best finisher in tied 16th.
But national No. 2 Galven, together with top-ranked Ervin Chang, could not return to take part as they are sitting for examinations in their respective universities in the United States.
The 24-year-old Joshua, fresh from his victory last week, will be aiming to complete a grand double in Malaysia and further underline his medal credentials at the Asian Games in Jakarta later this year.
He will be joined by 11 other compatriots including Singapore No. 1 Gregory Foo as they seek to deny arch-rivals Thais for the second week running.
Thailand's Sadom Kaewkanjana, the highest-ranked Southeast Asian golfer at No. 24 in the World Amateur Golf Ranking, is the defending champion and he will be all fired up after losing the Saujana title to Joshua by two shots.
Witchayanon Chothirungrungrueng, the runner-up of last year, is also playing together with fourth and fifth-placed finishers Kosuke Hamamoto and Atiruj Winaicharonechai.
The past editions have been graced by the likes of four-time US PGA Tour champion Robert Allenby of Australia, three Asian Tour No. 1s including Thailand’s Thongchai Jaidee, Filipino Juvic Pangusan as well as Malaysia’s Gavin.
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